Tension high at latest Tonasket Council meeting

TONASKET – There was high tension at the last Tonasket City Council meeting on Tuesday, June 14.

The high-tension situation arose when Al Maden spoke to the council during the public comment period regarding a letter he had sent to the mayor, the city council, the Tonasket planning department, State Senator Bob Morton, U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, U.S. Representative Jim McDermott, the Office of the Commissioner of Public Lands, the Department of Natural Resources, the Okanogan County Office of Planning and Development and the Okanogan County Board of Commissioners.

Maden was angry about a dumping situation into the Okanogan River north of Tonasket. His letter states this is causing a block in the river in a natural area that allows the river to spread when it is above the flood stage. During Maden’s public comment period, Mayor Patrick Plumb told him the situation is being investigated and said there is an enforcement action being done on a city resident who was not present at the meeting. The specifics of the dumping situation were not discussed during the meeting, however after the meeting, Plumb explained that Maden’s concerns are with local truck drivers using hydrofluoric acid on the bottom of their trucks to prevent rust buildup caused by driving on roads treated with magnesium chloride to keep dust down and ice off.

One reason tensions were so high was that, in recent meetings, certain city residents have not followed the rules of decorum for public meetings and Plumb stated dissatisfaction with the way the members of the city council have been addressed recently. He stated he wanted Robert’s Rules of Order followed in the council meetings – not only by the council members, who have not broken the rules, but also by the city residents who choose to speak during meetings.

Once the public comment period ended and the council turned to their regular business, the atmosphere in city hall became much calmer. As part of their regular business, the council first heard from Jean Pfiefer regarding the Community Cultural Center’s Music in the Park event this summer. Pfiefer said the event will take place over three Fridays this summer in History Park from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. each of the Fridays. The first, July 8, will be a performance from Chesaw Jam Band and Friends while the second, July 22, will be a performance by Jazz Operation and the third, Aug. 5, will be a performance by Laura Love. These family-friendly evenings will have one or two vendors set up in the park for attendees and the council agreed that, if the pool manager can find lifeguards to cover the time, the city pool will be open during these evenings as well.

The council then approved Resolution #2011-05 “declaring support and adoption of the updated Okanogan County Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (OC-CEMP) as part of the town/cities local emergency management program.” This resolution creates an emergency plan between the City of Tonasket and the Okanogan County Emergency Management Department.

Finally, during his department head report, City Public Works Superintendent Bill Pilkinton said the bathrooms in Chief Tonasket Park were recently vandalized and had to be closed.

“The toilets were all plugged up with rocks, the drains were also plugged up and the urinal in the men’s room was busted,” Pilkinton said.

The bathrooms will remain closed until the damage can be repaired for the safety of users and there was talk of keeping the men’s room closed until the urinal could be replaced.

The next city council meeting will be on Tuesday, June 28 at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at city hall.